Great Belt Bridge rail accident


On 2nd January 2019, in Denmark, a passenger train collided with a semi-trailer from a passing freight train. This happened on the Great belt fixed link near Funen during a storm. 8 passengers were killed and 16 injured. An early investigation found that in some cases, wagons similar to the one involved in the accident failed to lock the semi-trailers in place. A full investigation was published several months later and it confirmed the earlier results.

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Image 1:The passenger train after collision

Chain of Events:

Due to the heavy storm (Alfrida) which hit Denmark on the 1st January 2019, the Great belt bridge was closed for road traffic but not for railways. At 07:11, the passenger train departed from Odense headed towards Copenhagen. It was carrying 131 passengers and a crew of three when it arrived at the western end of the bridge. At the same time, a freight train with 1 crew member loaded with semi-trailers carrying crates of empty bottles belonging to Carlsberg, was heading in the opposite direction towards the Carlsberg brewery at Fredericia, 72 kilometres to the north west of the crash site. Just before 7:35, they collided in the western side of the bridge and passengers were affected. The storm caused more complications as it was not easy to send emergency operations. 8 passengers were killed, 5 women and 3 men, and 16 were injured in the accident.

Image 2: The damage to the semi-trailer (above) and the passenger train(below)


Initial investigations showed that the wind gusts could have added to the main reason of accident. Also, the semi-trailer was not properly secured to the railway wagon. Also, a similar accident happened in Hamburg, Germany and as per the European Union Agency for Railways the German authorities were supposed to inform the Danish authorities about the earlier accident , however this did not happen. The locking mechanism for the trailer was a safety risk and extra locking procedures were put in place. After this, measures to avoid such accidents across the continent were also adopted by the European Union Agency for Railways .

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Image 3: The site of accident


As per the final report published on 18th December 2019, it was found that the semi-trailer was not locked and improper maintenance was another reason for the accident. There was insufficient lubrication at the location of locking mechanisms. This allowed the high speed winds to losen the semi trailer from the freight train.As a result of the investigation, new guidelines on the maintenance of such locking mechanisms are expected to be implemented throughout Europe in 2020.

References: (translated to English on Google Chrome) (translated to English on Google Chrome)